Thanksgiving In Chicago – Best Things To Do + Events + Activities in 2023

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What to do in Chicago for Thanksgiving Day? Chicago offers a variety of activities and events during Thanksgiving. Here’s a list of things you can do during the Thanksgiving in Chicago.

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Thanksgiving In Chicago Chicago at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving In Chicago – Chicago Thanksgiving Guide

Let’s check some of the best things to do during Thanksgiving in Chicago with the best dining spots, tours, and all helpful tips.

Weather – Thanksgiving In Chicago

In Chicago, Thanksgiving weather is typically chilly, with average daytime temperatures ranging from the high 30s to mid-40s Fahrenheit (around 3 to 7 degrees Celsius). 

Thanksgiving In Chicago Chicago at Thanksgiving

You will experience cool breezes and possibly some early winter precipitation, so dressing warmly for outdoor activities is advisable.

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Things to do in Chicago on Thanksgiving

  1. Thanksgiving Day Parade: Attend the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which typically features floats, marching bands, and giant balloons. It’s a festive way to start the day.
  2. Turkey Trot: Participate in a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot or 5K run. Many neighborhoods in Chicago host these events, promoting a healthy and active start to the holiday.
  3. Visit Millennium Park: Stroll through Millennium Park and enjoy the outdoor sculptures, including the famous “Cloud Gate” (The Bean). The park is beautiful in the fall, providing a picturesque setting for a leisurely walk.
  4. Museum Exploration: Some museums in Chicago remain open on Thanksgiving. Check the schedules for institutions like the Art Institute of Chicago or the Museum of Science and Industry.
  5. Thanksgiving Dinner Cruise: Experience Thanksgiving on the water by taking a Thanksgiving dinner cruise on Lake Michigan. Enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the city skyline.
  6. Lincoln Park ZooLights: While it officially kicks off after Thanksgiving, you can still visit Lincoln Park Zoo to see the holiday lights and festive decorations. things to do in Chicago on Thanksgiving - Chicago at Thanksgiving
  7. Chicago Riverwalk: Stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk and enjoy the scenic views. In the evening, the city lights add to the charm.
  8. Holiday Markets: Explore holiday markets and pop-up shops, which often start appearing in various locations around the city during the Thanksgiving weekend.
  9. See a Show or Play: Check out the local theaters for Thanksgiving-themed performances or enjoy a Broadway show playing in the city.
  10. Ice Skating: If the weather permits, lace up your skates and hit the ice at one of Chicago’s outdoor ice skating rinks, such as the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park.  things to do in Chicago on Thanksgiving - Chicago at Thanksgiving
  11. Volunteer Opportunities: Consider volunteering at a local charity or community organization. Many places look for extra help during the holiday season.

Always check event details, timings, and availability before planning Thanksgiving in Chicago, as there can be any last-minute changes, too. Enjoy your Thanksgiving in Chicago!

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Must do festive tours – Thanksgiving in Chicago

Chicago offers several festive tours during Thanksgiving, providing a unique way to experience the holiday season in the city. Here are some must-do festive tours in Chicago at Thanksgiving:

  1. Holiday Lights Tour: Join a holiday light tour to experience the magic of Chicago’s festive decorations and light displays. Whether by bus, trolley, or horse-drawn carriage, these tours often take you through iconic neighborhoods like the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park, and the Loop. Best Things to do in Chicago City Tour – Chicago Travel Guide
  2. Architectural Boat Tour: Take a cruise along the Chicago River on an architectural boat tour, which may have a special holiday-themed edition during Thanksgiving. Admire the city’s skyline with festive lights while learning about its architectural history.
  3. Food Tasting Tour: Explore Chicago’s diverse culinary scene with a holiday-themed food-tasting tour. Sample seasonal dishes and treats from local restaurants, bakeries, and food markets while soaking in the festive atmosphere.
  4. Thanksgiving Dinner Cruise: Enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner cruise on Lake Michigan. Many tour companies offer special holiday cruises with a traditional Thanksgiving feast, live entertainment, and stunning views of the Chicago skyline.
  5. Walking Ghost Tour: For a unique twist, consider a festive walking ghost tour combining Chicago’s haunted history and holiday spirit. Learn about the city’s darker side while enjoying the seasonal decorations.
  6. Neighborhood Holiday Lights Tour: Chicago’s neighborhoods often have distinct holiday decorations. Join a guided tour through neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, or Andersonville to see their unique festive displays.
  7. Trolley Caroling Tour: Experience the season’s joy on a Trolley caroling tour. Sing along to holiday tunes as you travel through Chicago’s neighborhoods, spreading cheer to residents and enjoying the festive lights.
  8. Christmas Markets Tour: Explore the city’s various Christmas markets and holiday pop-up shops. A guided tour can help you navigate the best stalls, find unique gifts, and savor seasonal treats. Thanksgiving in Helen GA
  9. Holiday Breweries Tour: If you’re a craft beer fan, consider a holiday breweries tour. Visit local breweries that embrace the festive season with unique holiday-themed brews and decorations.
  10. Themed Walking Tours: Join a walking tour with a specific holiday theme, such as a Christmas movie locations tour or a historic holiday tour. These tours often include exciting anecdotes and trivia about Chicago during the holidays.

Enjoy the city’s festive spirit and enjoy your wonderful time in Chicago at Thanksgiving holiday.

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Chicago Thanksgiving Dinner – Chicago For Thanksgiving

Here are some types of Chicago Thanksgiving dinner options with festive feasts.

Nashville Thanksgiving Dinner Options

  • Traditional Thanksgiving Dinners: Many upscale and traditional restaurants in Chicago offer special Thanksgiving menus with classic dishes. Check out The Signature Room and The Drake Hotel.
  • Thanksgiving Buffets: Some hotels and dining establishments host Thanksgiving buffets with various dishes. The Peninsula Chicago and The Palmer House Hilton offer lavish Thanksgiving buffets.
  • Riverfront Dining: Consider dining at a restaurant overlooking the Chicago River or Lake Michigan. Some places like The Smith may offer special Thanksgiving menus in a scenic setting. 
  • Unique Dining Experiences: Look for restaurants offering unique dining experiences for Thanksgiving. Carnivale mainly provides a Latin-inspired twist on Thanksgiving, and The Walnut Room inside Macy’s on State Street is known for its historic and festive atmosphere.
  • Live Entertainment Dinners: Check for restaurants that combine Thanksgiving dinner with live entertainment. Untitled Supper Club offers live music or other performances during the Thanksgiving celebration.
  • Family-Friendly Options: If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving with family, consider family-friendly restaurants like American Girl Place or The Chopping Block.
  • Thanksgiving Brunch:  Beatrix and The Publican offer a Thanksgiving brunch in addition to traditional dinners.

Always book your festive dining in advance, as most places are famous and completely sold out if you plan at the last moment.

Thanksgiving Concerts/Shows – Chicago At Thanksgiving

  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO): The CSO often presents special performances around the Thanksgiving holiday. 
  • Chicago Theatre: The historic Chicago Theatre mainly hosts special events or concerts during Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving In Chicago Chicago at Thanksgiving
  • City Winery Chicago: City Winery is known for hosting various musical performances. 
  • Thalia Hall: Thalia Hall is a versatile venue hosting concerts and events. 
  • Chicago Cultural Center: The Chicago Cultural Center occasionally hosts special holiday performances, including concerts and shows. Check their schedule for Thanksgiving-related events.

Remember to check the official websites of the venues mentioned and local event listings closer to Thanksgiving for the most accurate and current information on concerts and shows in Chicago. 

things to do in Chicago on Thanksgiving - Chicago at Thanksgiving

After reading this Chicago Thanksgiving guide, you know some of the best things to do in Chicago on Thanksgiving. So plan your Thanksgiving in Chicago and visit Chicago for Thanksgiving. 

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